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Russia for equality in Euro missile defense - AF CinC

RIA Novosti

05/01/2007 17:24 MOSCOW, January 5 (RIA Novosti) - Equal participation should be the basic principle of international cooperation in the missile defense sphere, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force said Friday.

Army Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov told RIA Novosti that Russia should be closely involved in all stages of building and operating an international missile defense system, including in Europe, on an equal footing with the EU countries and the United States.

But he said the process was complicated by the U.S. decision to deploy elements of a national missile defense system in Europe, adding the U.S. is only concerned about defending its own national interests while ignoring European interests.

Russia said last month it is opposed to the United States' plans to deploy an anti-missile shield in Central Europe.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, said these plans do not even make "political sense, to say nothing of military sense".

He said deployment of a missile defense system will not affect Russia's security in any way.

"The Topol-M ground based missile complexes that we demonstrated recently reliably overcome any missile defense systems. So we take these [U.S.] plans in stride," he said.

He dismissed the argument that the missile defense system in Central Europe is designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles of so-called threshold states, namely Iran and North Korea.

"I have every reason to say that there are no ICBMs in Iran or North, nor are there going to be any [in the foreseeable future]. So the real question is, against what countries will this system be used," Ivanov said.

President Vladimir Putin said in mid-December that the deployment of mobile Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile systems contributes a great deal to Russia's national security.

"This is a significant step forward in improving our defense capabilities," he said while inspecting the first regiment of mobile Topol-M ICBMs, put on active duty this month in the Ivanovo Region in Central Russia.

Vladimir Putin said that developing Russia's strategic forces is the main priority on the national defense agenda.

"Maintaining a strategic balance will mean that our strategic deterrent forces should be able to guarantee the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no matter what modern weapons systems he possesses," the president told a meeting with top military officials.

He called for the creation of cutting-edge strategic weapons, and emphasized quality over quantity.

Russia currently has five missile regiments equipped with silo-based Topol-M missiles, and one regiment equipped with mobile Topol-M systems.

Sergei Ivanov said earlier that Russia is planning to purchase 69 silo-based and mobile Topol-M ballistic missile systems in the next decade.

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